By Hayden Wright
The long-awaited premiere of Britney Spears’ ninth studio album Glory is here, and let’s just get this pun out of the way—it’s glorious. In the years since Britney burst onto the scene as a coy, seductive teen, she has been through hell and back . In those later years, her efforts have yielded hits (Blackout, Circus) and occasionally misses (last summer’s ill-advised “Pretty Girls”).
Now, Britney is back in top form and just in time for the VMAs. Conceptually, Glory returns her to the perspective that made Femme Fatale possible in 2011: a reverence for producers, focus on where dance is heading next, and a willingness to experiment.
- “Just Like Me.” In this mid-tempo number, Britney delivers a “Dancing On My Own” sentiment that adds insult to injury—her guy’s new girl looks just like her. The song blends guitar arrangements reminiscent of Madonna’s American Life with an Ace of Bass beat that keeps things tropical for the summer. And frankly, we’re sure “she” doesn’t look half as good as Britney.
- “Liar.” Some critics have compared this track to the work of Katy Perry, and the point is well-taken. “Liar” is a ballsy call-out song about a dishonest man and the woman who sees right through him. “Toxic” relationships have always made great fodder for Spears’ most vulnerable, compelling songs and this one is no different.
- “What You Need” Forgive the comparison, but imagine Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” (big band fanfare, high energy) adjusted to Britney’s choppy, staccato delivery. “What You Need” cribs swing dance influences without committing full-tilt, and the electric organ is a nice touch.
- “If I’m Dancing” is the most heavily-produced song on the album, focusing solely on beats, voice manipulation and ecstatic electronica. Complex synths give the moody track depth and height, so if you’re not dancing by the end of “If I’m Dancing,” you should probably turn up the volume.
- “Better.” One of Glory‘s sexiest moments is this bouncy ode to intimacy: “When you know somebody / And they know your body / It’s so much better.” When the beat drops, “Better” strikes a Bieberesque chord…it’s like Britney with Purpose, putting the next generation of former teen-pop stars to shame.
These are our favorite tracks, but there’s more! You can stream all of Glory here: